Day After Day, Loving God

I will sing praise to your name forever, as day after day I fulfill my vows.

-Psalm 61:9 (CJB)
The place that we are living towards, with the Lord, is being His bride.  The place where we are going to is marriage with Jesus.  All of our lives bring us into union with Him.
Our lives are lived day by day.  Believers live in the present with God.  The gospel message in not just good news for the future, but good news for now.
The vows we make to the Lord, and fulfill daily are like wedding vows.  The promises we make and keep are rooted in love.  When we get married, we make vows out of our love for our bride or groom.
But the vows we make to Jesus are all because of his love.  When we see, hear and experience his love; it is perfectly natural to love him back and make vows to love him and serve him.  
Our vows we make are completely free will.  They are freely given offerings expressing true love.  You get to write your own vows.
Your vows to God are your free choice to make and say as you will, from your heart to God’s.  Our vows are not some sort of payment or contractual obligation.  To make a vow in order to procure God’s favor is wrong and foolish.
The vows we make to God, to Christ, are made from love and from a life that is already under His care.  Our vows are given in the context of already having begun to experience God’s faithfulness.  Making vows or giving offerings comes out of and from knowing God’s faithfulness and goodness.
Everything we do in the kingdom is inspired by the king.  He is good, so we are good.  He loves, so we love.
We don’t do anything towards God to get God to do something.  But we do things towards God because of what God has done and is doing.
When I endeavor to keep my promises to God and make every day a love gift to God, I find fulfillment.  True peace and tranquility comes from loving and serving God.

The Heritage

God, You have heard my vows; You have given a heritage to those who fear Your name.
-Psalm 61:5

God hears our vows, the promises we make to Him in prayer.  God gives us rewards, possessions, prosperity, land, and blessings.  We pray this way, because we honor, are loyal to, and have reverential fear towards God.

In a believer’s life making vows or promises to God is optional: you don’t have to, but also natural: you want to, because as you discover God’s goodness, you naturally want to make promises and vows to Him.

God is the prototypical, the first and foremost generous person.  Giving is God’s nature.  God gives a heritage to those who honor Him.

A heritage is something that is handed down, inherited, or reserved for us.  We individually have rewards, we collectively take part in the reward, and we are given to one another as a reward.

I believe that the heritage is “the whole package”, meaning and abundant life in and with God and people.  The main gift, possession, blessing, or reward that we receive is God himself.  We can and do say, “Lord, You are my portion in this life”.

It is not about getting things, but about getting God and God gives each one of us things.  This message is portable to the poorest and richest cultures, because God gives each one a place and a space, in Him, no matter where they are.  This message could have great meaning to someone in prison, for example.

We who are believers at this time, get to take part in the blessing that God has offered and given in every generation.  Walking with God, making promises to Him, and honoring God results in a richly rewarding life at any time and in any place.

God has an inheritance for each of His children.  You might say, “when will I receive it?”, and the answer is that you are already receiving it.  Look around and see it, hear it, know it.

We might ask if there is a formula, that if we make vows or promises, that we will get possessions or inheritances from God.  God is not like our earthly parents or grandparents, as He gives His children their inheritances.  God is the, “before you call, I will answer”, God; and God gives gifts to all his children, in an unmerited fashion.

God does not give to us because we make vows or promises, but we make vows and promises because of God’s generosity.  We possess our inheritances because we are paying attention to God.  Our rewards, special possessions, lands, monies, benefits, and unclaimed promotions are awaiting us, as we journey with and into God.

Keeping Our Promises To God

Then I will continually sing of Your name, fulfilling my vows day by day.

-Psalm 61:8

I want to ask you a question:  What are you going to do?  I mean, what have you told God you are going to do and are you doing it?  What I am talking about is that when you love someone who loves you, you spontaneously make promises to them out of your love.

How do you choose to live?  Our lives are filled with responding to what God has done, becoming aware of what God is doing, and asking God to do things.  There are many facets of the God side, but there is also the you side: “what are you going to do?”

In the ‘you doing’ are you keeping your promises to God, whatever they are?  Are you doing that?  How are your life’s choices impacted or governed by your promises to God?

To have communion, to share life, between you and God; is a key dynamic of your life.

Sharing life with God is the life that we live.  We have communion with God on a daily basis through God’s gift and love mediated through Christ.  We enjoy God and live in a life of worship and keep our promises to God through Christ and in love.

We are day by day singing to God and fulfilling our vows, because we have God in our lives by faith.  Fulfilling our vows means keeping our promises.

In the relationship we have with God, we have recognized God’s love and come into salvation, saying “I do”, as a bride says, “I do”.  As a bride, we are betrothed through unconditional love.  But we make promises or vows back to our bridegroom, to God, to Christ, out of our love for him.  And we live daily, keeping the promises we have made, communing with God in our living out our vows.

When we interact with God, it is natural to ask God questions or make requests of God.  And it is also natural to tell God what you want to do in relation to him.  You have questions and requests, and that is fine and good, but what do you say that you will do?

There is no perfect or correct answer to my question.  Our lives are made up of what God has done and is doing, and what we decide to do.  We don’t just live in the big wow of discovering what God has done, but we also live with God in the decisions we make in regards to God.

Life is filled with challenges.  Success and failure, prosperity and set-backs, favor and loneliness, times of building and times of being attacked; all these times challenge us.  In these times, especially when we have a problem, we call out to God.

And God sometimes feels distant when we are having a problem.  It is like the problem is separating us from God.  The problem becomes the center thing and we call out to God.

I know stories of people promising things to God, when they were in a fix and I have done that in my life, but that is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about the promises that we make to God when we are in love with God.  I imagine that if you are a believer, you became one because you got touched by God and know God’s love and you love him back.

When we love someone and receive their love, we naturally love them back.  We make a commitment to them and in love, we make promises to them.  It’s like we say that in the light of your love and all that you have done and promise to do, here is what I want to do, will do, or promise to do for you.

You have probably heard a saying about married life that goes something like, “a wedding does not a marriage make”.  In other words, whatever kind of wedding you have, it does not guarantee a healthy marriage.  Because a healthy marriage depends on what you do, day by day, in your marriage.

In the same way, a healthy or fulfilling relationship with God depends on what you decide to do, day by day.  The happiness or fulfilling life all depends on you.  You are as whole, have as much joy, have as much peace, and have the amount of love that you choose.

I watched a romantic drama last weekend, where a couple ended up getting married.  At the wedding, the man pulled out some papers and recited vows to his bride.  This was a surprise to her.

She thought that they were just going to get married, and then work out their love life together.  But the man surprised her and told her from the moment he met her, he began writing out the vows he would make to her at their wedding.  He went above and beyond her expectations.

The groom in this story, did something that is optional.  Today, some people do traditional vows, some people like the man in my movie write their own vows, and others have no vows.  It is the same way in our relationship with God: the vows are optional and we can write our own, saying what we have heard others say, or make our own vows.

The word vow is a little bit old fashioned.  A more up to date word is promise.  The wedding vows are promises.  At weddings today, we usually hear, “I promise”.

We can and it is natural to make promises to God.  Lovers make promises to one another and it is the true lover that keeps their promises.  Keeping promises is a day by day thing.

It is natural to make promises to someone you love and then live in the keeping of those promises.  This is the way that loving, covenant relationships work.  Marriage is a covenant and our relationship to God is a covenant.  Out of love, we make promises to our spouse or to God and then we live in the keeping of those promises.

Do not think that anything you do earns the love of your beloved.  We do not pay for or earn our salvation from God through our chosen promises that we make and keep.  But we are paying back or returning the favor.

God does do all sorts of things that we want to praise him for and return the favor so to speak.  But paying back and payment for services rendered are two totally different things.  The more that you return the favor or pay God back, the more you will be blessed.

But this has nothing to do with merit or your elevation or your earning salvation.  It is like a child that chooses to come to grandpa and get hugs.  The child who chooses the coloring book over getting hugs and kisses is not bad, but the child who chooses his grandpa’s embrace and thereby gets hugs and kisses, gets that tangible, relational blessing that the coloring book can not give.

Our lives, as adults are just like that.  God’s embrace is available and God’s ear is open, but we have to choose to go into God’s embrace or to talk to God.  People who choose something else over God’s embrace are not necessarily bad, but they are just missing out on hugs and kisses.

Here is a song that describes what I am talking about.
My Lord, My God; by Darren Clarke

I Pray, God Hears, I am Blessed

I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength.
Lead me to a rock that is high above me.

God, You have heard my vows; You have given a heritage to those who fear Your name.

-Psalm 61:2 & 5
We might think that when we are at the end of our rope, at our wit’s end, exhausted, discouraged, or weak; that the prayers we pray are not very effective or valuable.  But they are.  
We are never instructed to wait till we have it together, to pray.  
We are supposed to pray when we are in need, in trouble, empty, bewildered, lonely, or afraid.  We can call to God from the lonely place, from the barren place, or from the empty place.  
When we feel unstable, we pray for God’s stability.
Then we feel fragmented, we need the rock of God.  “Lead me”, means “take me there” because life has taken its toll on me and I am feeling wobbly.
When we pray or walk in worship, we make vows to God.  Vows are promises.  There is a healthy, loving way to make vows, and an unhealthy way.
At a wedding, the couple makes public vows to each other.  In their married life, it is natural and healthy to continue to make vows.  We make these promises as an expression of our ongoing and growing love for our spouse. 
It is the same way in our relationship with God.  It is good and healthy to tell God how committed we are to him.  We say it and do it.  We fulfill our vows:

Then I will continually sing of Your name, fulfilling my vows day by day.
-Psalm 61:8

Vows are an expression of love and commitment that must be attempted to be followed through on.  It is foolish to make vows that you are not going to keep.  A vow is a promise and when we do not keep or even try to keep a promise, it breaks the relationship.

It is good to promise God, make commitments or vows to God.  We just need to be careful what we promise, because lying or blowing hot air in prayer is not good.

We all want answered prayer.  What if the main answer to prayer is to know God heard me?    
Sit with that thought.  God heard your prayers.  I have understood that there is a Hebrew idea culled from the OT, that when God hears, he answers.  Something to ponder.
God hears and answers, but it may be a very different answer than we expect.
We have to remember that God made man in his image.  When we make God robotic or like a machine or even a magnificent person who designed a blueprint or wrote a script that he is bound to carry out, we are making God in our image.  
God is a person who cares and listens and wants to know me and my most intimate questions, thoughts and desires or requests.
When I realize or know that he hears, it makes me want to pray more and listen more and be with him more.  Spending time with God is never futile.  It is always an investment, a healthy choice.  There is a blessing for those who call out to God and make promises to him that they intend to keep.  
The reward for praying to God, the creator, the Father of Jesus; is God.  You get to relate to God and have God relate to you.  You get to be filled with God and be connected to God, bearing God’s fruit in your life.  You get peace that the world does not have.
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The artwork about is by James Michael Smith, found here.

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